The Journalist and the Prostitute
“What is you name ?”
The Indian journalist covering the Bangladesh war asked the prostitute
“Tell me the truth, what is your real name”
“Then why did you lie”
“Aren’t you a Hindu , I assumed a Muslim name to give you the turn on of invasion”
The Poison of Inheritance
It is the printing technology of the West that made us so fond of maps. In schools they made us work overtime to clearly draw the boundaries of India, they punished us for every little curve we missed and while lying to us about Kashmir. But they never told us the difference between the human beings on either side of the line, they just told us the others are our enemies as if it was obvious . Maybe thats what their parents taught them, which becomes our inheritance.
The poison of inheritance runs through each one of us and we, after our day long struggle with our tiny big insecurities, go home to the comfort of those inheritances – of being an upper caste or lower caste Hindu, a Muslim ,a Sikh, a Christian, a Bengali, a Tamilian and a thousand other things. We have deep running prejudices against each other, the Hindus think the Muslims are invaders and terror mongers and the Christians are out there to convert them, the Muslim thinks the Hindus are out there to kill them, the North Indian thinks South India is some other country, Andhraites who can’t stand the tamilians and the tamilians who think everyone else want to steal their water and their classical language, Biharis are called illegal aliens in the mountains and in Assam; Nagaland and Manipur does not believe in India and the rest of India does not believe these places exist.
We are prejudiced to the core with our deep rooted inheritances and one fine day they pull one billion of us together and say we are a republic. The deep divisions and conflicts within us that defeats us every single day go by the pet name of “Unity in diversity” ; our teachers force us to write essays on that till our hands pain and our brain fatigues.
We build walls around certain colonial demarcations and live smug faced within those walls entrenched in one thousand riots stretching from Kashmir to Vadodara, from Kaveri to Singur and from Narmada to Garo–Khasi. If we do all this in the name of security and in the name of development, why dont we build walls around Assam,Kashmir,Gujarat,Manipur,Punjab and then around each state,district and finally around each human being who lives here. We call ourselves a republic, one billion people suspicious of each other within artificial boundaries with tickets to a tryst with destiny. Is there a more horrible sight in the world than a republic with borders ? Yes there is, a republic with borders with people in it with no clue why they are there.
Holy left-overs of a colonial past
What makes us build walls with Pakistan and Bangladesh? That same thing makes us suspicious of one another, the same thing makes us build nuclear bombs and the same thing makes the Indian state a miserable failure. At the root of the problem lies the acceptance of the “majority’s culture” as the mainstream and the treatment of the minority’s culture as an aberration. The hidden grudge against the aberration will wait for a chance and once sparks start flying, the powder house of pent up emotions explode – like Gujarat , like the Anti-Sikh riots of Delhi ’84 and more than anything the Partition of India.
We followed the post 1857 colonial idea of division by defining the Indian culture as Hindu culture – which was not true. Then in our textbooks and history books we defined the Manusmrithi and Arthashastra which belonged to a microscopic minority as our mainstream culture – which was not true. Then we placed vegetarianism and cow worship as core ideas of Hindu worship which was not true. Well we did make the British leave,but we inherited their colonial droppings.
The republic’s boundary is nothing but a tool of exploitation. The map-bound spirit of extreme nationalism helps nobody but the capitalist bourgeois who actually controls every sphere of this nation. Nationalism is a right-wing rallying point in India, issue after issue, atleast after Nehru. The border-defined-republic is the worst case of usurping land and nature, the height of state sponsored hypocrisy. The “developmental” future of the republic and its dependency on the bourgeois and foreign funds has been so ingrained in our psyche by the border-defined-republic that we are ready to sacrifice lives and livelihood for the republic’s “future”.Each of us feel the “turn on” of invasion when troops are rallied in our northern borders, and some of us at the height of our xenophobic orgasm cry “nuke the bastards,just nuke them !”The national boundary and the wars over it makes us more intolerant, and at times it makes us ask the Indian Muslim to go back to Pakistan,where he didn’t come from.
Its in vogue to criticize Gandhi, but the fact remains that he was one of the few people who understood the importance of a multi-cultural secularist India, who understood what India really stood for in the world and the importance of worshipping Ishwar and Allah together. There was this other person who claimed to have discovered India but ended up discovering a throne for his daughter and grandson.
Our India is a Sufi
Every nation has a destiny, the republic is just another oppressive roadblock in the nations path. If the undying urge for individual freedom is the corner stone of western civilization, for India it is our spirituality. Our spirituality which time and again has refused to inherit lies,inherit hypocrisy and inherit tyranny. It is the denial of inheritance that Krishna talked about in Gita, that is exactly what Buddha did , Kabir and Nanak practiced and Gandhi died for. The partitioned India is our inheritance and it is upon us to deny it or build walls to protect our patriarchal fortune. If India is a mother we should find her.
There is no India without Pakistan and Bangladesh and Nepal and SriLanka. Our destinies and our myths are so entwined. We would, I hope one day define what India really means and discover her in all her glory and her all encompassing Sanathanadharma. We can deny Gandhi and Mohammed, Nanak and Kabir, Krishna and Buddha, but we shouldn’t overlook the underlying love in their messages which runs through this nation. Our philosophy doesn’t differentiate between plants and animals, then where do we find boundaries in it.
Our Indus is a river which carries the holiness of the Hindu’s penance from the Himalaya’s along with the sacred chants of the Buddhist Lamas, courses its way through the fertile land of the holy Gurdwaras to enter Islam’s promised land of Pakistan and finally flows into the sea of the Arabs. Our India is a Sufi.
Good Night and Good Luck !
Note : Its always a very confusing experience to understand India and I can see my view of it changing every minute I wrote this post. I might be contradicting myself at times but that I believe is the fun of the whole exercise.
I found this touching piece by Alakananda, another collateral damage of building borders.